Alaska News Nightly: May 7, 2008

Democrat candidate for Congress, Jake Metcalfe drops out of the race. Plus, Congress does battle over high oil and gasoline prices. And the Governor’s disaster cabinet calls for economic assistance for Juneau. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Jake Metcalfe calls it quits
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
Democrat Jake Metcalfe has withdrawn his candidacy for the US House of Representatives. He made the announcement this afternoon. It comes after weeks of controversy surrounding derogatory web sites allegedly set up by a former campaign advisor.

Congress fights over high oil prices
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
The political battle over high oil and gasoline prices continued in Congress today. Democrats unveiled a plan that calls for a trust fund to spur renewable sources, energy efficiency and consumer price protection. It would be paid for by slapping a windfall profits tax on oil companies and repealing $17 billion worth of oil and gas industry tax breaks. It also calls for anti-price gouging measures and punishment for OPEC countries if they’re found guilty of price manipulation.

Don Young pushes ANWR as part of parks improvement bill
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
Congressman Don Young used a bill aimed at generating money to improve national parks to push his proposal for opening the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to development. The parks bill authorizes ways to generate more public and private funding in the lead up to the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in 2016, but lawmakers are having a hard time finding ways to pay for the sums needed. Young said ANWR drilling could provide that funding while addressing what he believes is the more pressing issue of high energy prices.

Governor’s disaster cabinet calls for economic assistance for Juneau
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Governor Palin’s Disaster Policy Cabinet is recommending the governor request an economic injury disaster declaration to help small businesses access low-interest loans during Juneau’s energy crisis. It comes none too soon for Juneau legislators, who have asked the governor to reconsider the disaster cabinet’s findings.

Tanana River flood waters on the rise
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
Water overflowing the banks of the Tanana River flooded about 10 homes in the Salcha area today. Fairbanks North Star Borough spokeswoman Jennifer Yuhas says the worst flooding happened this morning in Salcha’s Starkeyville neighborhood.

Rice panic hits Y-K Delta
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
As news about the international rice shortage spreads, customers in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are stocking up on their own supplies.

First Ocean Rangers spring into action
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Alaska’s first Ocean Rangers are in action. The cruise-ship pollution monitors began their work when the first large vessel arrived in Alaska waters late last month. Program managers say they are having no trouble recruiting rangers. But so far, they haven’t hired any Alaskans.

25 abused dogs rescued in the Mat Su
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Veterinarians in the Mat Su Valley are caring for 25 severely emaciated and dehydrated sled dogs. The animals were removed from two properties in Lazy Mountain this week. According to the Borough, Doug Bartko owns all the dogs, but transferred 13 to them to his brother’s property after animal care officers first contacted him on Friday. Borough Animal Care chief Dave Allison says the dogs Bartko moved were the worst off. Many were very close to death.

Alutiiq masks exhibited in Kodiak
Anne Hillman, KMXT – Kodiak
After 136 years, part of a French collection of Alutiiq masks have returned home to Kodiak for an exhibition.

Nenana ice goes out
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A rare late night winning time was recorded in the Nenana Ice Classic last night. The ice on the Tanana river at Nenana shifted enough to move the tripod and trip the clock at 10:53 p.m. Amanda Wubbold with the Ice Classic organization in Nenana says it’s only the second time in the event’s long history that the clock tripped between 10pm and 11 pm.